Quietly devastating, DEAD RINGERS offers compelling evidence that David Cronenberg has matured into a truly great filmmaker. Continuing the detailed character study that blossomed in THE FLY and combining it with his fixation on the metaphysical, Cronenberg has vividly created yet
another film that is powerful, moving and rich in ideas.
Inspired by the real-life story of respected twin New York City gynecologists Steven and Cyril Marcus (who in 1975 were both found dead in their garbage-strewn Upper East Side apartment, a double suicide brought on by barbiturate addiction), Cronenberg introduces us to Elliot and Beverly Mantle, a
pair of brilliant gynecologists who open a state-of-the-art fertility clinic and share an opulent apartment. Although physically identical, the twins possess very different personalities. Elliot is something of a cad--suave, debonair, and self-confident to the point of arrogance--whereas Beverly
is shy, studious, and more sensitive. Elliot has always procured women for Beverly--seducing them first, then turning them over to his shy sibling when he was through--unbeknownst to the woman. When a famous actress, Claire Niveau (Genevieve Bujold), arrives at the clinic looking for answers to
her infertility, trouble brews between the brothers, for although they both share her physically, Beverly falls in love for the first time, driving a wedge between the twins.
Extremely unsettling, at times amusing, cold yet personal, DEAD RINGERS gradually and deliberately comes to horrify the viewer, rather than shocking outright with such spectacular displays of gore as the exploding heads of SCANNERS, gaping stomach cavities of VIDEODROME, or vomiting Brundleflies
of THE FLY. Not your average horror roller-coaster ride, DEAD RINGERS asks some disturbing questions about the nature of individual identity and, within that net, explores such outgrowths as eroticism, narcissism and misogyny. During the last decade, Cronenberg has matured into a filmmaker of
remarkable scope, able to convey his obsessions with impeccable skill without sacrificing one iota of his own remarkable individuality. The astonishing Irons receives superb support from Bujold who breathes life into a part that, in other hands, might have been a mere plot device.
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